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My name is Micael, and I believe miracles are happening today. I’ve seen some amazing things on missionary journeys as well as here in Sweden, where I live. As an evangelist and apologist, I long for others to discover that God is alive and active today.
However, when I have talked to other Swedes about this, it has been difficult to convince them. As residents in the most secular country in the world, people here are skeptical and require evidence. For a long time, I have wanted to be able to refer to a single book in Swedish that collects the most well-documented, inexplicable answers to prayer that we know of.
Such a book is not available today. So I’ve decided to try to write one myself.
A Gold Mine for Documented Miracles
Sweden has an extensive welfare state, with free, advanced healthcare accessible to all citizens. Swedish Christians rarely have a problem combining their prayers for healing with medical checkups and care. (more…)
Arguments from miracles to show the existence of the divine have been used almost since the dawn of religion. In the New Testament, miracles are used to form arguments for Israel’s God being with Jesus (John 3:2), being involved in contemporary life (Luke 7:16) and existing (Acts 17:31). Throughout church history, arguments from miracles have been frequently used to defend truth claims of Christianity or certain sects of Christianity, not the least on the mission field.
In modern apologetics, one particular argument from miracles is widely discussed and defended, namely the resurrection of Jesus. Apologists try to show that this is a historical event, since the truth claims of Christianity rests on this miracle according to 1 Corinthians 15. But many of them are hesitant to base an argument for God’s existence on modern-day miracles, even though that would cast increasing doubts on the metaphysical naturalism that many opponents of the resurrection’s historicity base their reasoning on.
In fact, well-known apologist William Lane Craig has said “I don’t appeal to miraculous healings as arguments for God’s existence […] I think that there are weightier arguments for the existence of God than pointing to miracles.” Timothy McGrew concludes in his well-written article on miracles in the Stanford Encyclopedia on Philosophy that arguments from miracles are interesting but can’t stand on their own. Justin Brierley, host of the apologetic debating program Unbelievable at Premier Christian Radio, have had a few shows on contemporary miracles, but has admitted that they don’t talk about it very often and gives the following explanation for this:
This is kind of unusual for me […] we’re tending to deal with the kind of philosophical arguments for God, can we trust Scripture, those kinds of bariny, intellectual issues if you like. And in the field of apologetics, as it’s sometimes called, the sort of miracles stuff is sort of considered a bit like, “out there”. It’s very difficult to verify, it’s not objective in the way that we can talk about evidence for God and the Bible and that kind of thing. So in my view I think a lot of apologists tend to steer away from it.
As I’m developing a formulation and defense for the miraculous argument for God’s existence I’ve enjoyed listening to lectures on YouTube by other Christian apologists where they defend the key premise, that miracles occur, from both a philosophical and an empirical perspective. The main philosophical objection to miracles was raised by David Hume in the 19th century, an argument that is still often referenced to by atheists and skeptics but which is actually circular and not very persuasive, as Timothy McGrew explains:
It is generally agreed today that Hume was simply lacking miraculous experience himself and so just assumed that nobody else was experiencing it. His remark of how a dead man coming back to life “has never been observed in any age or country” is embarrassingly naïve, not just dismissing the resurrection of Jesus a priori but also the numerous dead raising accounts of his time. As I have met and interviewed a man who was raised from the dead I can assure you Hume was wrong. (more…)
Today I write on Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice about Craig and Médine Keener’s upcoming book Impossible Love. After becoming very good friends, the civil war in the Republic of Congo made it impossible for them to contact each other for eighteen months. Craig didn’t know if Médine was dead or alive. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Craig Keener writes in an email correspondence to PCPJ:
“There was no friend I had corresponded with as much over the years as Médine. I was always happy to receive her letters, but the last one threw me into panic: She announced that she didn’t know if she was going to live or die, because troops were closing in on her city.”
The horrors Médine and her family was going through were unimaginable.
“Her cousin was shot dead on Christmas Eve; her father and brother had barely escaped being shot. Although she didn’t mention it, she and her mother and sisters didn’t know how they could flee because her father was disabled and they had no way to carry him. But by the time Médine’s letter reached me, her city lay in shambles.”
For seven years, I have been arguing that signs and wonders should be combined with peace and justice and that the charismatic and activist streams of Christianity should unite. Early on I discovered Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice (PCPJ), and became a joyful member. PCPJ stands for what I stand for, and so it was easy for me to stand with them and promote their website on my website.
Recently, Brian Pipkin from PCPJ contacted me and asked me if I could help them create content for the PCPJ website and Facebook page. Of course I said yes! This is a dream coming true for me, I get to participate in an organization that I love, using gifts that God really has equipped me with.
Please check out the existing articles at the PCPJ website, including this political Christmas reflection by Craig Keener, author of Miracles, and this piece by Eric Gaboruel on Pentecostal veganism. And don’t forget to like the Facebook page and join the Facebook group if your a facebooker.
Without spoiling anything, I can assure you that many more interesting articles will show up on the website. If you like the Holy Spirit and activism and wants to contribute somehow as well, just tell me!
Elijah Stephens who is in charge of the upcoming documentary on medically verified healings has written a blog post on Think Theology where he debunks some common myths about miracles, like that people don’t see many miracles today, that educated people don’t believe in miracles and that skeptics won’t change their mind when they are presented with miracle evidence. It’s a very good read, and it reminded me of something that I’ve been pondering for some time: why do so many people in the minority world believe that miracles don’t happen?
I’ve been there, I grew up as a non-Christian and didn’t believe in miracles. Historical miracles like in the Bible were fairy tales to me, and if somebody said that a person had been miraculously healed I would have mocked them and argued that there is a “natural” explanation. I was fascinated by ghosts though, and mediums… the logic wasn’t strong with this one.
Now, I realize that to say “science has disproven the existence of miracles” doesn’t make any sense. There are thousands of medically verified healings, such as the ones documented by World Christian Doctors Network and Craig Keener’s excellent work Miracles. These events, which take place after prayer, are scientifically inexplicable.
Elijah Stephens from Redding, California is a former Vineyard Pastor with the ambition to make a documentary about evidence for miraculous healings. The film’s working title is Prayer Movie, and in a recently released video Stephens describes the project idea as following:
In the video you can spot professor Candy Gunther Brown who has written Testing Prayer: Science and Healing dealig with this very issue, as well as Craig Keener who has documented several medically verified healings in his big book Miracles. Heidi och Rolland Baker along with Randy Clark will also be a part of the film.
While the documentation of inexplicable events is far from new, films on this topic are quite rare other than looking at specific, individual cases. Stephens give some really compelling arguments on his website for why Christians should welcome evidence to support miraculous claims rather than brushing it off as a sign of weak faith or as a way to test God. He refers to how Johsua commanded the Israelites to put stones in the middle of Jordan so that their grandkids can be reminded of the miracle God did there (Josh 4:4-7).
If you want to support the project you can donate to Stephens’ Kickstarter. If the target isn’t met you wont have to give your money away. I myself am very excited for this movie and will pray and give for it to become a reality!
One of the best books I’ve ever encountered on the topic of miracles is simply called Miracles, and is written by Craig Keener. A professor of New Testament Studies, Keener started his book as a footnote in another work on the book of Acts where he explained why he didn’t rule out the possibility that the miracles described there actually happened, and when his footnote had grown to a couple of hundred pages he decided to make a book out of it (and it’s pretty clear that this guy likes footnotes, there’s such an insane amout of them that the book had to be published in two volumes!)
Keener covers a various of fields such as exegesis, history, philosophy, natural science and journalism as he provides hundreds of testimonies about miracles, most of them from recent times and several of them medically and scientifically verified. It’s a very good read. And I would like to share with you the essense of his philosophical argument, which also can be viewed in this video:
It is common to hear, especially in the Western world, that miracles “clearly” don’t exist, that belief in miracles is a medieval relic, that “modern” people can’t believe in supernatural superstition etc. Quite often this is simply viewed as an axiom, a self-evident premise that does not have to be proven; it is often believe that science has already denied the existence of miracles so arguments for the premise is not necessary. However, science has not proven that miracles don’t exist, science is agnostic on such matters just as science has not proven that God does or doesn’t exist. I’ll come back to that shortly. (more…)